Wednesday , May 31 2023

Shortage of water is an urgent issue

Caribisch Netwerk writes that, many on Saba are currently suffering from the persistent drought. In particular, the companies feel the financial consequences.

The current price for 1000 liters runs between 105 and 110 dollars. The cost of the water is 60 dollars and the remaining amount is for delivery, depending on the distance. For an average household, this lasts for about one and an half month. Hotels will need much larger quantities.

Also the Organoponics Garden on The Level, run by the the Social Workplace,  is faced with challenges. About 2 inches water from their cistern is required per day to water all the plants of the facility. It has become too expensive to water them all.

Claire Verbeke-Nuyens, the owner of The Queens Garden Resort, has to order order fifteen loads of water per week. In March, that had to be increased to twenty or twenty five loads per week. It is their largest expense.  She is of the opinion, that the time has come, that the Island Council should intervene. Water should be subsidized. It is clear, that it is not economically feasible to build a general water supply system on the island, but they need to come up with a solution: water is one of the basic human needs.

The situation triggered Member of Parliament, Ronald van Raak (SP), to question Minister Ronald Plasterk (Kingdom Relations) about the water shortage on Saba.

In 2009 and 2013, the imminent problems were solved by an intervention of the Navy bringing a bulk water supply to the island. Van Raak wants to know if the Minister will take such an initiative again.

Van Raak would like to see a structural solution. The issue of water shortage has been discussed in the past. It was agreed, that a plan for a structural solution would be required. However, that has not materialized up to now.

Minister Plasterk has three weeks to answer questions. However, given the urgency of the matter, Van Raak hopes, that the Minister will be acting earlier.

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  1. It is high time that someone in local and national government come to the realization that there is a severe drought being faced on Saba.
    For clarifications sake I will point out the following:
    1. Water costs $105-$200 depending on how far it has to be delivered
    2. When water had been brought in by the Navy in the past it had been used for Government infrastructure and the community and private sector are not to privy to such benefits.
    3. In neighboring St. Maarten where there is an island wide water distribution network produced from desalination, a household of 4 pays around Fls. 70 or $35 per month.
    4. The main priority of the government should be supplying clean affordable water to the community. This is a basic human right.
    5. On Saba a blueprint, contractors estimate and a building permit must be paid for before any construction can take place. Then construction costs of $2.5-$3 per gallon after excavation is charged by local contractors to build a cistern. Saba Roads charges $6 per gallon. A lot of our neighboring islands do not have this added expense when building a house since water is pipped to the house.
    Only people living on Saba and experiencing the problems know what is really going on, clearly our ruling politicians do not experience the same plight.
    This attention about the water situation is only thanks to the SLP who sent in a letter to the Dutch Government concerning it.



  3. Sitting on the Sidelines

    There are always several solutions to a problem depending how far we are willing to go in finding one. Without water none of us can live here. What we need is a long-term solution and we should be the one to create our own solution because we live here. This problem is not going away. The fact that The Hague is discussing our problem is annoying at best since they are deciding what is best for us and not the other way around.
    Mount Scenery is always in the clouds. Clouds are made of water. There are machines that can extract water from the air. A network of these could be part of the solution. We will need a place to store the water but this solution could be part of multi-prong effort.
    This link is to a Youtube video outlines one large scale type of system that could be used. There are other types of these machines to choose from but we first need to determine if the government is even interested in considering this possible solution:
    The question that needs to be answered is: Is the government willing to look for a long-term solution that helps all the people on Saba or are they going to protect local businesses which benefit a few?

  4. I agree with Claire. I assume ALL hotel experience the same problems. We (Scout’s) have to buy water as well on a weekly basis. This eats up all profit a business makes to pay all its taxes, salaries, social premiums, electricity, communication and all the other bills we weekly receive. But of course, this is not considered by the authorities, tax office, banks or other entities. Economy down, water purchases up, taxes up, income down and I could go on and on…..I think its urgent time to do something about it. But frankly while writing this I notice how funny that sounds. Will they really consider this? I’m pretty sure they won’t.

  5. Water distillation might be a good idea or desalination of the seawater. The island is small enough to afford water accessability throughout.

  6. Sitting on the Sidelines

    Dear Irvine Green,

    We already have desalination on the island. That’s what the original article was referring to.

  7. Construction of Desalination plants to compliment the production and supply of domestic water is the most feasible option available to the island. Islanders need to be more proactive by demanding of the governing powers, what is best and urgently needed in the interest of all, public and enterprise. The primary system of water storage through the construction of individual cisterns on personal properties, has served the islands well in the past, but a more robust system needs to be put in place. Most problems on the islands are as a result of lack of economics planning. The question as to what does the island have to offer by way of ” Economies of Scale” to serve as a trade off for the many diverse services required, is a conversation worthy for discussion, it must be placed high on the agenda of the Dutch Government.

    Adopted son.